By Luis Sandoval
On the biggest stage boxing can provide, Floyd Mayweather (45-0, 26KOs) once again proved why he’s the best fighter in the world as he dominated and handed Saul “Canelo” Alvarez his first professional loss Saturday night. The final verdict was a surprising Majority Decision as one of the judges strangely scored the fight a draw with a 114-114 scorecard while the other two saw it 117-111 and 116-112 in favor of Mayweather.
Mayweather looked sharp and accurate as he controlled the fight for 12 rounds and negated Alvarez’s offense and attack. For those who complained about Mayweather moving too much in fights, he made sure to stay in the pocket and he often stood toe to toe with his bigger rival and made for an exciting and interesting contest.
Alvarez came into the ring with a 15 pound weight advantage but it would not be a factor as the fight was fought in the middle of the ring all night. Trying to box the best boxer in the world was a gamble and probably ill advised but Alvarez tried his best and came up short.
Mayweather came out aggressive the first round as he walked towards Alvarez and pumped his jab repeatedly. The jab was Floyd’s choice of weapon in the early rounds as it landed and made Canelo’s head snap back. Alvarez had shown some great head movement in the Austin Trout fight this past April but his head was stationary as it made for an easy target for Mayweather.
Alvarez wasn’t very busy as the fight was fought at a slower pace which favored Mayweather who was the more offensive of the two. In the 3rd round however, both fighters appeared to warm up as Mayweather landed two right hands and Alvarez retaliated with his own jab getting cheers from the crowd.
It was surprising to see Mayweather stay in the pocket for long stretches and instead of using his legs, he fought fire with fire as he often exchanged with Canelo and was getting the better of it. While Mayweather was winning the fight, Alvarez was giving a great effort as he was more effective than Robert Guerrero was last May. He wasn’t catching Floyd, but he was getting pretty darn close and remained poised.
In the 6th round, Alvarez’s corner appeared to urge him to step on the gas and Alvarez obliged as he was the most offensive than we had seen him all night long. Even with the urgency, Floyd was still masterful as he made Alvarez miss and then pay as he landed flush right hands and left hooks. Mayweather normally lands lead rights but tonight, the majority of them came off the jab.
By the 9th round, Mayweather appeared to be in full control. Even when Canelo managed to have Floyd’s back touch the ropes, he unsuccessfully unloaded combinations punches as Floyd evaded them and moved out or returned his own shots. By the end of the 10th, the writing was on the wall and Mayweather even gave Alvarez a long stare as to let him know he was simply not going to win this night.
Mayweather finally decided to use his legs in the last 2 rounds as the hard work had been done and he simply needed to reach the finish line. Alvarez to his credit continued to pressure and try to land but it he couldn’t connect on Mayweather.
The announcement of a majority decision was almost shocking but in the end, Mayweather recorded his 45th victory of his 17 year career; just 5 years shy of his opponent’s age of 23.
“I’m a little shocked at whoever had him ahead [on the cards]. Everything is a learning experience. I want to thank everyone who came out to support me and support Canelo. Canelo is a young strong champion. Mexico has produced some great champions. He can take a loss and bounce back” Mayweather would say after the fight.
Tonight Alvarez just wasn’t dealing with the best pound for pound fighter, but probably a sharper Mayweather than anyone has had to fight in the last six years. Ricky Hatton was the last fighter to face Floyd when he fought twice in one year back in 2007. The quick turnaround definitely kept Mayweather fresh, sharp and even made him want to engage and put on a show as Alvarez admitted he simply couldn’t find his opponent.
“Simply I couldn’t catch him. He’s a very elusive and intelligent fighter and I couldn’t find him. Yes, he’s a smart fighter. He has a lot of experience and elusive. I simply didn’t know how to get him” said Alvarez.
The best way to describe Floyd Mayweather is as the Michael Jordan of boxing as he performs on such a high level and dominates his sport and makes it seem almost effortless. Jordan finished his career with 6 world championships and Mayweather is finishing his career with a 6 fight contract; two down, four to go.
As for Alvarez, the young former champion will use tonight as a learning experience. He wasn’t afraid to test himself against the best and even though he lost, he gave a great effort and performance.
“We have to keep going. I’m only 23 years old. This is an experience for me. I will continue to give the best of me” Alvarez would say after the fight.
The big question once again now is who does Mayweather fight next. Danny Garcia is obviously a viable opponent as his fight with Lucas Matthysse was put on the undercard for a reason. Mayweather, Golden Boy and the rest of the teams will have 9 months to come up with something. In the meantime, we will wait for the pay per view numbers to see if this fight broke the buyrate record set back in 2007 with Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya.
It was the fight most fans were anticipating as much or in some cases even more than the main event as Danny Garcia (27-0, 16KOs) and Lucas Matthysse (34-3, 32KOs) fought for Junior Welterweight supremacy in the co-feature to the biggest fight card of the year. In a fun fight Garcia would once again prove his doubters wrong as he would beat Matthysse over 12 hard fought rounds to retain his undefeated record and world title.
Surprisingly the fight wasn’t the all out action slugfest most expected. There was plenty of action but it was Garcia’s boxing acumen that was difference and not the power both men possessed in their fists.
The action didn’t get off to a fast start as Garcia was reluctant to engage the hard hitting Argentine who was coming forward looking to attack. Matthysse was just the more aggressive and the busier fighter for the first two rounds and Garcia seemed to be gauging his opponent and not offering much in return.
In the 4th round however, things took a drastic change as Garcia finally began opening up and letting his hands go in combination. He looked more fluid than he had in the opening rounds and worked both the body and head of the charging Matthysse. Garcia’s game plan was effective as he looked to counter whenever Matthysse attacked and clinched whenever Lucas got inside.
Matthysse continued to attack but his punches weren’t landing clean and his refusal to jab his way inside helped Garcia counter with 2-3 punch combinations. By round 7 Matthysse’s right eye began to show the damage Garcia’s counter punching and dedicated jab were doing as it began to swell up and close. Garcia appeared to be in full command as he also worked Matthysse’s body consistently.
Things wouldn’t get any better for Matthysse as the nearly shut eye allowed for Garcia to land his signature left hook flush twice in the 8th round. Lucas did his best to let his hands go but still, nothing much was landing cleanly on Garcia.
The 11th round turned out to be the best round of the bout as Matthysse started it off by landing a terrific right hand that sent Garcia’s mouth piece flying out of the ring.
Matthysse once again applied the pressure and this time his right hands were finding a home on Danny Garcia. The success would be short lived as Garcia landed his own combination and put Matthysse down for the count and scoring the first and only knockdown of the bout.
Seemingly in a hole, Matthysse would try to go all out in the final round but it would be Garcia who would once again let his hands go and punch in combination. One of Garcia’s body punches strayed below the belt as referee Tony Weeks decided to take a point away. The point deduction would fuel both fighters as they traded down the stretch giving us some of the best action in the fight.
At the end, Garcia’s boxing performance would provide him a victory as the judges scored the bout 115-111 and 114-112 twice.
Garcia once again surprised everyone as he boxed beautifully for 12 rounds and more importantly was able to take Matthysse’s power. He was hit with some hard shots but he took them well and in turn, returned his own attack.
We have to give Garcia credit as not only did people think he would not take this fight, but tonight he proved he’s the best 140 pounder in the world with a victory over a fighter who most deemed the best of the division.
As for Matthysse, he came up short in the biggest fight of his career but has nothing to be ashamed about as he gave it his all and even with a closed eye, still fought valiantly.
You can follow Luis Sandoval on Twitter @truewet007. You can also tune in to Boxingscene’s official audio show The Boxing Lab every Tuesday from 6-8PM PST with host Ernest Gabion, Luis Sandoval, and Ryan Burton.